Upon request I am adding the chapter that precedes "The Foreclosure" and will soon add part three to round the series out. "A Favor", "The Foreclosure" and "The Auction" are excerpts from my satirical novel "Lockyer-Own Self Storage".
“…AND THEN THIS LITTLE PIG flies out of this, like, man-hole? And follows your cursor around? And when you click your mouse, it like talks to you? It’s so clever.”
“What is it, like, Flash or something?”
“Yeah, Flash… And it’s got these like, loungey, space age bachelor pad tunes? With sampled bits from commercials from the 60’and 70’s? Oh, and clips from cheesy B-movies?” The girl laughed. “And your avatar’s a cute little Sherpa to guide you through the site…”
Larry Tarkesian flicked at a runny mixture of eggs, cheese, and overcooked potatoes with crusted scabs of basil. “A chronically fatigued, underfed slave who risks his life for rich thrill seekers.”
Felicity Starkwell, creative director for a South of Market ad agency, sat opposite Larry dressed in an op-art sun-dress, and turquoise, 50’s style horn rimmed specs. Her pale, heart shaped face was topped by a two-tone bob with bangs that hugged her forehead. She nudged Larry with her foot. “So what’s up with you Sir Grump-alot.”
“I just don’t… care anymore. My life’s a total wreck and this is all just a lot of meaningless bullshit. I’m thinking of joining a Kibbutz.”
“Oh cut the crap,” his pal Goran Evenlietchavitz said. His sole reason to live seemed to play the foil for Larry’s moaning. His jeans were cuffed in the Roy Orbison style and he wore a beige bowling shirt with the name ‘Ward’ stitched in red on the pocket. “You’ve got a job. You’re single - not a care in the world and all you can do is come out with some lame ass excuse to convince yourself you feel rotten so you don’t have to engage with the real world. Look at me. I live in a shitty lower Castro squat with two dogs an alcoholic tranny landlord, and—”
“A trust fund.”
“Funny Larry… I just get on with it.”
“Listen Larry.” Felicity intercepted Larry’s hand before it reached his coffee. “No really, listen up.”
Larry grimaced, though he secretly enjoyed her breakfast homilies: as much a Saturday morning ritual as queuing for a table outside Haight Street’s busiest brunch spot - the Pig Sty, or scanning the Bay Guardian’s gig listings over coffee. But today he could almost be forgiven for feeling down on his luck. He’d emptied his savings to pay the rent on his Haight-Ashbury apartment and was a month in arrears on his parking space. Broke, with ten days till payday, he was late again on his storage space in Alameda.
“You need to lighten up Larry. You’re stressing yourself out. You’re stressing us out. You should try yoga.”
“Uh, Yoga isn’t going to pay the bills Felicity,” Larry said before extracting his hand and drinking the last of his coffee. “I need to come up with $175 by mid-afternoon Monday or my stuff is going to be repossessed.”
“Here we go again. Check please,” Goran called to their waitress. “I’ll get this one Larry.” He slapped a twenty on the table and accompanied Felicity to the door.
“Goran, before you go. Listen. Can I borrow a hundred dollars? I’ll get you back on payday. Felicity? Wait guys…” Larry struggled with his jacket zipper and waded through lily pads of crowded tables calling after his friends.
The morning fog lifted to reveal a greyer sky. It was damp, cold - an ideal day for snake dancing in Golden Gate Park. Larry picked his way through feces and hippies on Haight Street and turned up the hill at Masonic towards his blissfully cool pals Dominic and Eva’s place, an attic flat in one of the lanky Victorian houses bordering Buena Vista Park.
He pressed the doorbell and waited on the porch to be buzzed up. The view across the panhandle toward the University of San Francisco was impressive on the dullest day. He pressed the bell a second time and the intercom croaked back, “Yeah.”
“Hey Dominic, it’s me.”
“Well… Can I come in?”
The door at the top of the third floor landing was opened a crack. He knocked, and Dominic greeted him in a tee shirt and boxer shorts.
“Come on in.” He rubbed his eyes and ran a hand across his dark tussled hair. On the couch sat his girlfriend Eva, elbows on knees in a sleeveless grey tee shirt, also in her underwear. Last night’s makeup lined her eyes. The only light in the room was from the murk seeping through the closed curtains. A cat jumped off of the sill of the widow’s peak and rubbed against Larry’s leg. “You want some coffee?”
“No thanks, I just got back from the Pig Sty.” In the gloom, Larry imagined Eva glowering at him. Eva hadn’t moved on the couch. She hid behind straight, light brown bangs and spoke little. Larry got the feeling she didn’t like him. She never wore a bra.
Larry followed Dominic through a briar patch of recklessly purchased samplers, amplifiers and AV equipment into the kitchen: a countertop with room enough for a hotplate and a skinny 1970’s fridge.
“Dude, did you just wake up?” Larry watched Dominic struggle to measure out the coffee beans.
“Yeah, well, what time is it?”
“Like, three o’clock.”
“Oh.” He turned on the grinder, an epicurean torture device that emitted a loud crunching whistle that rock-launched their rangy Abyssinian cat from sill to floor to couch to windowsill again. His girlfriend sat still as a statue. Flummoxed, Larry struggled to start a meaningful conversation. “Nice tattoo Eva.” He flattered her across a rack of guitars that would have made Lee Ranaldo proud. “Is that new?” Eva glanced at the Celtic loyalty tattoo circling her triceps and shrugged.
“We were out sort of late,” Dominic said. “We went to see Recursive open for Tarentel at Bottom of the Hill.”
“Yeah, they’re this band that sounds like, the band that sounds like, the band that sounds like Nirvana. Where were you anyway?”
“Out on a sort of date… I think,” Larry said.
“You think?” Dominic glanced at Eva. “And where did you take the lucky lady pray tell?
“Theatre Artaud. To see the Master Typists of Fujitsu.”
“The Master tipe-isss…” his voice trailed into the holes in his sneakers. “An avant-garde secretarial pool who go onstage in Butoh garb and pound out chromatic poly-rhythms on QWERTY keyboards.” Dominic burst out laughing. Eva scowled at Larry like he was the biggest dork in the world. His voice trailed to a whisper. “I just dropped her off early and ended up getting drunk at the Toronado.”
When the coffee had brewed they made their way back to the living room. Dominic brought Eva a mug and sat beside her. “So Larry. What brings you here this foggy, er, afternoon?”
“Oh nothing, nothing, I was just stopping by to see what you were doing.” Several awkward moments passed before Larry leaned forward with his hands clasped like a cheap circuit preacher. “Listen. I hate to do this but I don’t get paid for like, ten days you know? My job sucks man, and I don’t know if I can handle all the B.S. I gotta go through. This dick that I work with is just… Aaaaa-ugghh…And you know that guy who lives under me. Well he’s arguing with his girlfriend right? And the door slams and the cops come and I’m up all damned night. I can’t sleep, I can’t eat, I don’t have a girlfriend. How could I have a girlfriend? Who’s gonna go out with me? After the Master Typists of… Shit! I’m sick of this town. I’m moving, moving to Portland. For sure. I don’t care if the weather sucks. It sucks all over the world. I give up.”
His diatribe was met by a pair of sleepy, bemused stares. “Right on, Larry,” Dominic said. Eva hadn’t flinched, hadn’t even sipped her coffee.
Sensing his rant hadn’t evoked its intended effect, Larry blurted. “Can I borrow a-hundred-and-seventy-five-dollars? If I don’t make rent my stuff’s gonna get repossessed.”
At this, Eva stood, and stretched. She picked her underwear from her backside as she left the room.
“A hundred and seventy five DOLLARS?” Dominic said. Between grins he blew on his coffee and visualized Larry’s pain in two weeks time. “No Larry. No I’m not going to lend you a hundred and seventy five dollars. And do you know why I’m not going to lend you the hundred and seventy five dollars? It’s not because I don’t like you, it’s because you need to learn how —”
“Here.” Eva said, throwing a wad of cash in Larry’s lap. She assumed her former position on the couch, and retreated behind her bangs. Dominic buried his face in his hands while Larry counted out five twenties. It was a start.
“Right on, Eva. You’re the best. I’ll get it back to you. ASAP. This is…” He kissed the handful of bills, “...awesome, really.” He patted Dominic on the shoulder and turned to hug Eva, but thinking better of it, extended his hand, “I seriously want to thank you for this. How can I make it up?” Eva didn’t move except to sip her coffee. “Well, I guess I’ll be going now. See you around.” Larry waved and walked into the hall.
As the door shut, Dominic yelled after him, “If I see your ass out drinking before you pay back her money I’m gonna clock you, you hear?”
“My money?” Eva said. “It’s your money.” She took a slow sip of coffee. “He’s your friend.”
'A Favor' is an excerpt from novel Lockyer Self Storage, 2011, Ninth & Broad Press for sale on Lulu. Thanks for reading.
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